Trucking influencer, Wayne Cragg, sits down for a discussion on everything from why drivers leave the industry to why he had to leave.
Wayne Cragg isn’t your typical social-media star. This truck driver has scores of connections on LinkedIn, friends on Facebook and followers on TikTok. People tune in for his true takes on everything from health and wellness, to trucker tips, to even some of the more difficult topics such as COVID and how it’s affected trucking over the last year and a half. Simply put: Wayne rarely shies away from any topic.
Wayne became a truck driver following a successful stint in the hospitality industry. His best friend from the Navy, who was running the C1 school in Missouri, paid for Wayne’s ticket from Washington to Springfield, so he could earn his CDL and there was no turning back.
Wayne started on social media the same day he started school, so he could chronicle the whole CDL process. “It actually was difficult,” he says. “I did my first test, and I don’t get nervous, but I didn’t want to let my best friend down. I had a lot riding on it. I failed the first CDL test so bad, the guy said, ‘Are you OK?’”
Wayne took the test again the following week, and scored a 98 out of 100. He went on to close to a decade behind the wheel, logging nearly 900,000 safe miles.
“It’s a great career,” he says. “It paid for all my fun, all my adventures, and I loved it. I thought I’d be lonelier than I am. It’s actually become quite nice. Then when the pandemic hit, a lot of people were really struggling being alone like that, and I wasn’t.”
COVID-19 did, however, have a different effect on Wayne: “What surprised me the most is that I let my health get away from me. In September 2019, my blood pressure was 120/61. That’s almost perfect. I spent seven months and two weeks during coronavirus in the truck, not going home. Three months ago, [my blood pressure] was 202/110, with cholesterol over 300. Those are stroke numbers. It’s amazing how quickly in one year, because of coronavirus, everything can just go away and go downhill.
“I was alone in Alaska four times. I’ve been to all 50 states. The next thing you know, here I am on a bike ride (more on that below) because the health got to me. There were a lot of issues with coronavirus and that’s why I wanted to tell truck drivers, no matter what, you need to do the healthy thing at all times.”
Reheated frozen burritos became a food of both convenience and necessity. And his health suffered for it.
Trucking isn’t known for its healthful environment. Even before the pandemic, while fast-food chains were the cheaper and quicker options at truck stops, there were at least a few healthy choices to choose from. But with the pandemic, he says, “We went from not many choices to even less.” Reheated frozen burritos became a food of both convenience and necessity. And his health suffered for it.
One of the top five reasons great truck drivers leave the industry is wait times.
Another thing that weighs on truckers’ well-being, according to Wayne, is ever-increasing wait times. “As a trucker, we’re more concerned about getting out within two hours,” he says. “What the coronavirus did was make bad shippers worse and good shippers even better. One of the top five reasons great truck drivers leave the industry is wait times. There is nothing worse for a truck driver. They have made us wait way too long for all these years, and we’re losing great truck drivers because nobody wants to wait at a shipper or receiver.”
Wayne put the brakes on his career to pursue a two-pronged mission. One goal is to get his health back on track. The other is to advocate for drivers. To accomplish both, he has embarked on a cross-country bicycle journey to inspire other truck drivers to deal with their health and lifestyle on the road — especially in light of the pandemic. He started in Michigan and plans to end up in Seattle. He is now raising money to fund his tour.
Wayne shares his insights on social media, routinely offering up advice to other truckers: “If you’re a driver, do what you love. I love flat bedding, doing the 48 and Canada and doing all these cool runs that you could do. … Do what you love to do, so you don’t get that upset when something comes up, and you’re like, “OK, I still love the job.”